YWA was established in 1993 by 20 young professional women. The organization was originally called “WIN2” and the purpose of the organization was not much different than it is today: aiding in the education, networking and mentoring of young professional women while promoting community leadership. By 1995, membership grew to 50 women and the group wrote its first bylaws, formed a board of directors, and gained support from a community advisory group.
In 1997 YWA established a separate charitable 501(c)3 organization called The YWA Foundation to raise money for scholarships, grants, and give back to the community. The original purpose of the YWA Foundation was to help women pay for living expenses so they could take unpaid internships and further their career. Over time the giving strategy evolved into the community grants and the high school scholarship program that we still execute today.
In 2021, the Young Women’s Alliance and the YWA Foundation merged into a single 501c(3) organization to drive more clarity around our mission and community impact. With that, the Future Women Leaders Fund was born to ensure that donor funding is stewarded to the programs that have the most impact on our community and the larger Austin community. The FWLF signature programs like YWA Connect, community impact programs such as our scholarships and DEB (diversity, equity and belonging) initiatives like our membership discount for women with financial barriers.
How We’ve Grown
YWA’s recent growth would not have been possible without the creation of our first ever strategic plan. Authored in the spring of 2019, our strategic plan set forth a vision for growth a more focused mission statement: Building a community that supports, empowers and connects women. The four pillars within the strategic plan are: organizational health, strong brand, membership experience, and DEB. By having a strategic plan in place, the organization is able to stay focused, despite the yearly turnover of leadership.
Our revenue has increased significantly over the years and by earning more, we are able to give more. In the past ten years YWA has awarded over $190,000 worth of scholarships, and given over $50K in community grants to non-profit organizations. In 2021, we awarded 5 scholarships to Del Valle High School senior women, and we will continue being a resource for young women to further their education.
YWA’s brand is also stronger than ever. With help from our volunteer based marketing committee, YWA underwent a visual rebrand in January 2021 that included a new logo, color palette and visual identity. This was the first update to our brand in over a decade!
In 2014, YWA had 166 members. As of July 2021, we have grown to over 400 members. Our 2021 leadership team is composed of a 17 member Board of Directors, 9 Senior Chairs, and 58 Committee Chairs – the largest YWA leadership team on record.
Our board of directors is an active board and 100% volunteer based along with our committees. All of our leaders play a pivotal role in ensuring our organization’s future by following the goals outlined in the strategic plan. Whether it is fundraising for the Future Womens Leaders Fund, increasing member engagement, or strategizing on how to be a more inclusive organization, YWA’s leadership team works hard to forward its mission.
Over the past year, we have reaffirmed our commitment to Diversity, Equity and Belonging by adding it as an additional goal to our strategic plan. Key DEB accomplishments thus far include:
- Adding a VP of DEB to our board and subsequent committee
- Hiring an outside consultant to ensure the application and selection process for the YWA Connect Mentor Program is fair and equitable
- Creation of community guidelines that all members must agree to and abide by. These guidelines were built to create a space where all women, regardless of background, feel like they belong.
- Recognizing the desire to increase socioeconomic diversity and remove financial barriers to participation in YWA, we introduced a discounted membership rate for those with genuine financial barriers. No application necessary.
The founders of YWA envisioned this organization as an inclusive community that facilitates networking opportunities and support for Austin’s next generation of women leaders. Their vision has been realized, and we are proud to count many of Austin’s most prominent business and community leaders among our alumnae. As an organization we are stronger than ever, but still committed to growing, learning, and serving our community.